The Shadowlands: The Regulation of Human Reproduction in the United States

Georgi J. Annas

in Cross Currents

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268208
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683442 | DOI:
The Shadowlands: The Regulation of Human Reproduction in the United States

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There is virtually no governmental regulation of human reproduction in the United States. There are three reasons for this regulatory vacuum: historic, economic, and political. Historically, although physicians have been licensed by the individual states for almost a hundred years, states have permitted the medical profession itself to define the practice of medicine, including what procedures (such as new reproductive technologies) are medical. Economically, the United States is in the grips of free market medicine. Politically, the continuing national debate on abortion, most recently focusing on so-called ‘partial birth abortion’ statutes aimed at outlawing a specific method of abortion, has profoundly diluted public support for government regulation of anything related to pregnancy. Although all three reasons are important, abortion politics continues to dominate anti-government interference with reproduction rhetoric. This chapter begins with an overview of U.S. abortion law since 1973, the year the most important health case in the country’s history, Roe v Wade, was decided.

Keywords: United States; government regulation; human reproduction; medicine; free market; abortion; pregnancy; politics; abortion law

Chapter.  10461 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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